Starting a reluctant dog

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Close up photo of Maisie, the dog used in this herding sheepdog training tutorial

Most dogs are over-excited when they first encounter sheep and it's up to the trainer to do their best to protect the stock. Occasionally though the dog takes no interest in the stock at all.

In this tutorial, Maisie shows no interest in sheep at first, but once the hunting instinct kicks-in, despite being a sensitive dog, she's aggressive with them.

Our video demonstrates how to limit the pressure applied by your control measures, while at the same time encouraging the dog to work.

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Why Your Dog Should Flank Both Ways

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Just as most humans are left or right-handed, the majority of herding dogs favour working in one direction over another.

Often, sheep and cattle dog handlers are not bothered if their dog will only go in one direction to gather the stock, as long as it brings them successfully.

This video demonstrates the importance of training your dog to work fluently whichever way the handler sends it.

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Sending the Dog the Wrong Way! Stopping the Dog The Perfect Stop

Bronwen and Scylla (Part 8)

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Thumbnail image for the sheep and cattle dog training tutorial: Bronwen and Scylla part eight

When a dog's proving slow to train, it's particularly important to be able to recognise the areas where progress is being made, and to communicate approval and encouragement to the dog when it's work is improved, even if it's not fully up to the standard you aspire to.

It's through such guidance that the dog learns more quickly what pleases the handler and what doesn't.

Part eight of the Bronwen and Scylla training comparison focuses on Scylla and points out the areas of her work which deserve praise and encouragement, as well as those which are still a long way below par.

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Stopping the Dog (2) The Perfect Stop

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Every handler wants a dog that stops on command, on the spot; and a dog that will stay there is a real bonus. But be careful what you wish for!

In our anxiety to achieve a good stop there's a danger we'll overlook what else we're telling the dog. Is it possible to achieve that elusive "good stop" without undermining the dog's confidence?

Our latest tutorial revisits the Stop (or Stand, or Lie Down). What do we want the dog to do, and when? How can we make it happen? And why doesn't it happen more often?

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Bronwen and Scylla (Part 7) – Going too Wide

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In part seven, of our Bronwen and Scylla comparison, we focus entirely on Bronwen. Although she's far more advanced and reliable than her sister, Scylla, she's developed the all-too common problem of running much too wide when she goes round the stock.

When a dog works too far back from sheep or cattle the stock quickly learn that the dog's not in a position to control them, and they're likely to run away.

The video shows that being firm, but patient, with the errant dog, and using practical work to show the dog that it needs to be in control, will help to stop the dog casting out too wide.

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Use a reward to get training on board

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Working dogs have a huge capacity for learning, but in order to learn things that we want them to do, there must be some reward in it for them.

Fortunately, one of the greatest rewards you can give a sheep or cattle dog is to allow it to work the stock.

This is obviously a great help when we train a dog to work livestock, but in this tutorial Andy uses the reward of working sheep to get Odo, who is terrified of going in a vehicle, to jump in and go for a ride!

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Top tips for easier training

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Nobody would claim that training a dog to work sheep or other livestock is an easy matter.

But by understanding what is going on and why, and by paying attention to just a few basic details, we can make the process so much easier for both dog and handler.

In this video Andy shows how to correct the points which will be most beneficial when you train a herding dog.

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Training Max – the Gripper (Part 3)

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Training a dog which is aggressive with sheep

The third and final part of our "Training Max the Gripper" tutorials sees Max working well in the training ring but then Andy decides to move the action out into the open field.

Find out how Max copes with taking the sheep out of the training ring, and whether or not he manages to get them back into it before the session ends.

Max had no training of any kind at any time in between the lessons shown in these tutorials.

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